Pillows are necessities in people's daily
life. Chinese ancient pillows were first made of natural stones and later the
materials used extended to wood, jade, bronze, bamboo, porcelain and so on.
Among all these pillows, porcelain pillows were most widely used. Just like
other daily-used pillows, porcelain pillows came into being with the development
of porcelain-making crafts.
Porcelain pillows first appeared in
the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and their mass production began in the Tang Dynasty
(618-907). Porcelain pillows reached the climax in terms of production and use
in the Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties (10th-14th
century) and gradually phased out in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) with
the emergence of better pillow-making materials.
In the development of porcelain pillows, the
ones made in Cizhou Kiln in the north during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) were
the most representative. Porcelain pillows produced in this period feature a
great variety and elegant modeling, including the geometrical shape, animals,
architectures, human figures and other shapes. They also have colorful
decorative patterns, and usually included the patterns of animals, plants, human
figures, mountains and waters, and characters, etc. The modeling and decorative
patters on the pillows directly or indirectly reflect the culture, customs,
fashions, and pursuits of the social life at that time.
Decoration techniques of porcelain pillows
were different from each other in accordance with different dynasties and
producing areas. Before the Tang and Five Dynasties period (7th
-10th century), porcelain pillows were mainly of module imprint and
careful carving; in the Song and Jin period (10th-13th
century), porcelain pillows featured paintings and more complicated decoration
techniques. With further improvement of porcelain-making skills and decoration
techniques, porcelain pillows demonstrated more and more beautiful arts and
Besides Cizhou porcelain pillows, many
well-known kilns in different places of China all ever produced fine porcelain
pillows, which featured different designs and decorations of glaze and lines and
whose styles as a whole were consistent to their corresponding dynasties and
characteristics of kilns.